Art from the Heart

When Christie Taylor from Hodges Taylor Gallery came to Charlotte Parent’s office more than a year ago to discuss the early ideas about an art contest, we envisioned a creative community event — a chance for families to submit art from children, for children to adorn the walls of the Levine Children’s Hospital.

Optimistically, we hoped to get 150 pieces of art, which would be mounted and framed for the patient rooms, but it never occurred to any of us that we would receive more than 700 wonderful submissions.

Our hearts were touched by the contest entries that included pictures of playful ponies, rainbows, smiley faces, happy patients and caring doctors. Children from 5 to 18 years old got in on the creative fun. Art teachers organized classrooms of participants, moms helped kindergartners and parents encouraged middle-school students, too. As the last days of the contest came to a close, the artwork was pouring in faster than we could catalogue it.

Danielle Cloutier, Charlotte Parent magazine’s marketing director in charge of the contest, was amazed. “We never dreamed it would be such an overwhelming success.”

At the Saturday reception, we were thrilled to see the faces of children light up as they found their artwork displayed on the walls at The Gallery at Carillon, while other kids posed proudly with their poster for a picture taken by Mom and Dad. One of the mothers was Nancy Horn of Charlotte. Her daughter, Jennifer, entered the contest and said seeing her work on display was a big thrill.

“Jennifer’s favorite part was knowing one day a child may look up at the picture and it would make them smile,” said Nancy, “And she loved the idea of sharing her art with others.”

The crowd of more than 200 parents, grandparents, teachers and children enjoyed cookies, juice and coffee and listened to a few words by Charlotte Parent magazine Publisher Sharon Havranek and Levine Hospital’s Chairman of Pediatrics Leonard G. Feld, as well as Christie Taylor during the event.

All the talented young participants had the opportunity to pick up a personalized certificate, and I had the privilege to announce the art contest winners who received prizes from sponsors Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, Community School of the Arts and the McColl Center for the Visual Arts.

“I thought giving out certificates was a nice idea for all,” said Horn. “It gave honor to all that tried and entered.”

The hospital staff was so impressed with the outpouring of artwork, they decided to keep all of the pieces and make every effort to use the artwork throughout the new building.

The Levine Children’s Hospital will be a spectacular new state-of-the-art facility designed to care for the physical and emotional needs of children and their families in the Charlotte area and throughout the Southeast.

When the hospital opens in the fall of 2007, the children’s art will be placed in all of the 234 patient rooms and throughout the building. Wherever these pieces are displayed, the brightly colored artwork promises smiles and hope for the children who will be treated there for many years to come.